Friday, April 28, 2017

Thanks Ross, Garcelle, Ali, Tanner, and Amanda

How many of you know who Ross Mathews, Garcelle Beauvais, Ali Landry, Tanner Thomason, and Amanda Salas are? How many know they host a television program called Hollywood Today Live?  How many of you would expect me to be writing about it though?  This blog is about the hometown heroes who make a difference in our world - about giving back.  When I am not writing about specific people or organizations, I'm making suggestions about how we ALL can make a difference, so why this tv show?

If you are from a marginalized group like people of color, gay, transgender, or foreign-born, you might not have a lot of role models on television.  While things are changing for the better, they aren't changing nearly fast enough for me.  Often folks seem to wince when a gay or lesbian reference is made, especially on live tv.  In 2015 along came a daytime telecast with pop culture stories and entertainment news and lots of interviews with folks who might not have made it on other shows.  We heard references to the lack of diversity in both the small screen and the big one.  Male guests mentioned their husbands, and it wasn't part of a joke.  People were allowed to be people.  The program hosts have such great chemistry that you would think they were life-long friends.  In short, everyone feels at home here, and isn't it about time?

Today it all ends.  Hollywood Today Live will do their final program.  In tv land, programs always come and go - this is nothing new, but when it's a show and people who are making a difference, it's a little sad.  I know many folks probably dismiss this show as more mindless fluff, but where else could you get a good laugh every day with people just like you?  Where else could you see wedding pictures from two men and not have it as a put-down?  Where would you see so much diversity without it being staged and fake?  For one hour a day, these three women and two men, and the tv show they bring us offer a connection that has made a difference in my life, and hopefully in yours as well. 

It was twenty years ago that Ellen DeGeneres came out as gay, both in real life and on her sitcom.  Today on her talk show, she is paying tribute to that moment with many of the cast from that history making show.  Where I live, that's on the air immediately before the last Hollywood Today Live.  This will be a special two hours for me, and I am grateful to both shows for making a difference!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Gospel According to Herb Caen

Herb Caen, the late newspaper columnist (who wrote for The San Francisco Chronicle and earlier for The San Francisco Examiner) was one of those people who made a difference in this world, mostly through his writing. When I picked up the morning paper, I went immediately to his daily column. A while back I reprinted here a column of his from back in April of 1991. For those of you who missed it, here it is again:

Scene: The Heavenly Real Estate Office. The Landlord is cheerily rounding up a covey of blazing comets that have skittered under Queen Casseopera's Chair. His business agent, Gabriel, enters, his Golden Trumpet in one hand and more reports from the tiny planet Earth in the other.


Landlord: (to the Comets) Come out from under there, you little scamps, before you set the whole galaxy on fire.

Gabriel: Excuse me sir. Another batch of prayergrams from your most devout Christians.

Landlord: (waving a hand) Whatever they want, Gabriel. Now where did those freaky devils get to?

Gabriel: Yes sir, they want you to evict ten percent of your tenants down there. (Raising his Golden Trumpet) I've never attempted a partial eviction. Shall I try?

Landlord: (looking up) What ten percent, Gabriel?

Gabriel: The gays, sir. Your devout Christians say they've done their utmost to keep them out of their schools, their offices, their churches, and their lives, but with little success. So their prayergrams ask you to remove them from the face of your Earth.

Landlord: To me Gabriel, that doesn't sound very Christian. I thought they were supposed to love their neighbors.

Gabriel: Oh they do sir, if their neighbors are of the same color, economic bracket, and sexual orientation.

Landlord: But what harm do these gay people do?

Gabriel: I'm afraid you're not seeing the big picture, sir. Gays simply don't fit into your grand design. You know, two by two, male and female? Generation after generation? The fact of the matter is that gays simply don't procreate.

Landlord: I thought there was enough procreation down there already.


Gabriel: And they commit unspeakable acts.

Landlord: Murder? Torture? Paving over my mountain meadows?

Gabriel: Unspeakable sexual acts, sir.

Landlord: Ah, you mean they express their love for each other in different ways.

Gabriel: (annoyed) Really sir! If these people were automobiles, they'd be recalled in a nonce. They're clearly defective.

Landlord: (frowning) Defective, Gabriel?

Gabriel: Exactly sir. Some essential part if missing; some vital drive is malfunctioning. Bungled wiring – a loose screw...who knows?


Landlord: But clearly they're examples of shoddy workmanship?

Gabriel: Oh definitely sir. And they certainly don't deserve to clutter up your little blue-green jewel of a planet a minute longer. (Raising his Golden Trumpet again) Shall I evict them now?

Landlord: (slowly) And who made these imperfect products, Gabriel?

Gabriel: Why you did of course, but. . .(he lowers his trumpet in sudden consternation) Good You sir. I didn't mean to blaspheme. You will forgive them then?

Landlord: (smiling) A wise philosopher said long ago Gabriel that if I made sinners, it is not I who should forgive them, but they who should forgive me.

Gabriel: Well, I'm sure the gays will be glad to hear of your tolerance and generosity, sir.

Landlord: The gays? I was talking about my most devout Christians.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

suicidal crisis

Many times in this space, I have written about suicide.  Yesterday I was saying that we need more understanding.  People don't talk about suicide often enough -it's one of those topics that just isn't discussed, but it should be.  Lives can be saved.  The national hotline in the US is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-273-TALK.  If you have suicidal thoughts or know someone who does, use this number.

Of course a telephone number doesn't solve everything.  I am not just talking about those in crisis too.  We ALL need to have a better understanding of suicide and we ALL need to value every human life.  Even though this blog is NOT about me, it's my opinions and my thoughts you get in a situation like this.  My opinion is, we need to care more.  Years ago in Nashville, I volunteered at a suicide prevention hotline, and each day we saw results.  Each day we helped people in crisis.  I'm not a doctor and I'm not close enough to the Robin Williams investigation to say that intervention would have saved him, but I can tell you of many cases where it has saved lives and I urge you to learn a few basic things.  The first thing is you are not alone!

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the highest suicide rate is among adults between 45 and 64 years of age, and the second highest rate is persons 85 years or older.  That may be surprising, because we so often hear about youth suicides, but elders take their own lives far more often.

All lives are precious though and nobody should feel that things are hopeless or that they are all alone. Again, if you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741. I urge everyone to become better informed too. We should all understand why people take their lives and how this can be avoided. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is an excellent place to begin. Check out their website at https://afsp.org/

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Suicide is not a laughing matter

Aaron Josef Hernandez is dead. It appears that it happened at his own hand, just as the deaths of others appear to have been. He was found guilty of one of those murders and was serving time. I understand all of that. Still, I am not in agreement at all with the folks who are applauding his suicide or make what I consider inappropriate "jokes." I am not here to praise Hernandez - far from it, but he was a human being and I am saddened when anyone loses their way. It is possible to loathe and to denounce the things he did and feel some sympathy for him and for his family. 

Two days after a murder that another killer recorded on video and posted to Facebook, that alleged killer apparently took his own life. During the abc-tv program The View yesterday, Whoppi Goldberg announced that they had just heard of the apparent suicide.  The audience applauded, until Whoppi held up her hands and asked for quiet. We know little about this man, but I know one thing. Like Hernandez, he was a human being. Please don't misunderstand. Randomly killing that 74-year-old was a horrible thing, but then taking his own life was not something to be cheered or joked about either.
 
I'm sure a good many of you will disagree with me today, and that is fine. I just don't understand cheering the demise of anyone. I don't understand that at all. Suicide is not a laughing matter and should not warrant applause. I have heard attacks on many famous people who have taken their own lives, and I think that is wrong. Suicidal tendencies need to be dealt with, and when we miss them and someone's life ends, we need to mourn, because we have lost - one death is too many. We need to learn and go forward, not with joy over the passing of a human being, but with determination to stop all killing,

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Singing the praises of Ellen

There are some people who always inspire you, and for me, Ellen DeGeneres is one of those people. I could easily write about her every single day and not get tired. Last year, in accepting the People's Choice Award for favorite humanitarian, Ellen said "I have to say, It's a little strange to actually get an award for being nice and generous and kind which is what we're all supposed to do with one another." Yup. You sure got that right Ellen, and thanks for the frequent reminders!

It has become difficult for me to turn on her daily talk-show. It's not that it isn't entertaining, but in addition to great guests, Ellen highlights some wonderful heroes on just about every one of her programs. She shows the world the beauty of being kind and caring, and she frequently rewards the hero with a nice gift or some cash with which they can continue doing good work. I joked recently that I should bill Ellen for my tissues because of all the tears of joy she has caused me to shed.

Besides giving folks a spotlight on her television program, Ellen DeGeneres is an activist for lgbt rights, a humanitarian, an animal rights advocate, and works on behalf on numerous causes including AIDS awareness. She has done work for dozens of charities including The Gentle Barn, UNICEF, Farm Sanctuary, PETA, Habitat For Humanity, The Trevor Project, and It Gets Better Project. Oh my! How does she find the time?

About twenty years ago I had the great joy and privilege of meeting her mother Betty. Someday I hope to meet Ellen too and thank her and tell her what she means to me. Until then, I'll just keep singing her praises here in my blog!

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Boy and the Starfish

All good stories begin with "Once upon a time," right? Well here's one, that was adapted from The Star Thrower by Loren Eiseley (1907-1977). You might find it reminding you of a similar story I recently told about a dog, and the message is really the same, so read on.

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a little boy, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"

The young man paused, looked up, and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean."

"I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" said the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the boy replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die."

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, "It made a difference for that one."

Indeed. It made a difference for every single starfish the boy threw into the water. The message this morning is clear, and it's one I have I shared over and over. WE can make a difference. WE can be superheroes. WE can do some pretty incredible things. If we throw our hand up in surrender and don't even try to make this a better world, of course we won't be giving back, but each of us can and should give back in our own way. If it seems overwhelming and that our contributions won't make a bit of difference, remember the story of the boy and the starfish!

Friday, April 7, 2017

it takes all kinds

We often hear it said that it takes all kinds.  Indeed it does!  I am so fortunate to know al kinds of people - people who serve, people who lead, passionate, talented, committed people, those who are seeking, those who have heard a call, innovators, givers, people who make this world so much better.  Making a difference in this world for the better, is the theme here.  All I have to do each day is look around and I find so many people and so many ideas to write about.
 
Yes, there are some who are only takers.  There are people who are more inclined to destroy than to build up.  These are not those folks who make this world so great and thankfully, these are not the majority of folks I know.
 
It takes all kinds - even the ones who don't want to contribute.  They help inspire us to do good instead of following them.  When we see bad, we are not inclined to follow it.  The positive wonderful things in our lives are the things that inspire and lead us forward.  Thanks to all of you who serve and who lead and who give!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Before you kick it

I've always felt that having goals is a good thing. Lately I hear more and more people talk about their bucket lists. Are they really such a good idea though? Some people say we are rushing death (the term "bucket list" coming from kicking the bucket, a popular expression meaning to die) and others say we are creating lists with difficult to fill ideas. I'm thinking though that having defined goals, can't be a bad thing.

Some folks list very simple things and some come right out of a thrill-seekers guide. What about you though - are there places you would really like to visit or people you want to meet of see perform or maybe some special things you want to do?  How about this:  don't just make a list, but include other folks.  There are organizations that help fulfill the wishes of dying people, but how about if we all did something really special before someone else passed away - a shared bucket list if you will.  I think I could really get behind that idea!

So how many of you think that is a good idea? How many of you have a bucket list of any kind? Before you kick the bucket, is there something special you want to do for others?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Hopefully

Some of you may have heard about Monday's bombing in Russia's second-largest city, Saint Petersburg, that claimed fourteen lives and injured dozens of others. Some of you. It really didn't get that much attention on facebook or twitter. It wasn't even covered with the same intensity as other recent terrorist attacks. Some might wonder if it got less attention because it was in Russia.

Now I'm not going to write here about the attack itself. I just want to point out that violence against other people is always bad. Apparently we forget that sometimes. It's horrible when it happens in our country or certain others, but we can turn a blind eye if it happens some places. Nope. Wrong attitude. It is ALWAYS bad.

The bomber in Saint Petersburg took his own life and we don't know who else might have been involved. We do know that dozens of people were terrified and fourteen people lost their life. We know too that this kind of thing is happening more and more and at various places all around the world. Hopefully we can all acknowledge that these attacks are horrible and that something needs to be done to stop them. Hopefully we can all work together and bring peace to our world. Hopefully.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Forty-nine years ago

Forty-nine years ago an assassin's bullet ended the life of one of America's best known leaders, The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Junior. King had just turned 39, three months earlier, and in his short life did more than one can imagine. Yes, he was a leader, but not an elected politician. He led people to God and to freedom and to economic justice and to equality.

Almost everyone, even those who weren't alive back then, can quote portions of speeches by Dr King. The list of his famous sermons and addresses stirs a certain spirit inside us all: "Rediscovering Lost Values," "The Death of Evil Upon the Seashore," "Paul's Letter to American Christians," "I Have a Dream," "The Casualties of the War in Vietnam," "Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution," "I've Been to the Mountaintop," and "We Shall Overcome."

Each year on his birthday, his death day, and during the holiday that was created to honor him, I try to learn more about this man of non-violence and great faith. One thing I do is look at how we have viewed him since his violent murder. The Presidential Medal of Freedom was posthumously awarded to him in 1977 by President Jimmy Carter. The citation read: "Martin Luther King Jr. was the conscience of his generation. He gazed upon the great wall of segregation and saw that the power of love could bring it down. From the pain and exhaustion of his fight to fulfill the promises of our founding fathers for our humblest citizens, he wrung his eloquent statement of his dream for America. He made our nation stronger because he made it better. His dream sustains us yet."

Monday, April 3, 2017

She's a rainbow

Sad news last Friday when I learned that Gilbert Baker, an artist and activist who created the rainbow flag, had died in his sleep. Gilbert, a military veteran, was in San Francisco when the gay-rights movement was beginning, and he designed banners and flags for numerous events. Over the years he organized numerous activities in San Francisco, and later in New York City, after he had moved there. He will always be best known I think for the flag which became an lgbt symbol.

Gilbert Baker made a difference in the world, in many ways. The flag was but one of them. Watching television coverage of his life over the weekend, it was interesting to see PBS NewHour anchor Hari Sreenivasan reported on him and CBS Sunday Morning to devote a segment. We don't see a lot of coverage of gay newsmakers.

It was Baker who gave drag queens more visibility when he organized the first San Francisco drag march back in 1999. Wearing a red, white, and blue "Betsy Ross" outfit and pink stilettos, Gilbert led the parade of cross-dressers through the streets of the city with the sound of the Rolling Stones singing "She's A Rainbow." This was just one of many events where Baker was front and center, but it was his iconic rainbow flag that is more recognized. The six color version of the rainbow, is what we have come to know, but the first version back in 1978 had two more stripes: hot pink and turquoise. They were removed because of both manufacturing needs, and the greater ease in hanging the six-stripe version.

In the 72 hours since the world found out that Gilbert had died, there has been an outpouring of memories from all over the world. California state senator Scott Wiener said Baker "helped define the modern LGBT movement." San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, hung a rainbow flag at half-staff from his City Hall balcony and said "The passing of gay rights activist Gilbert Baker is a loss for San Francisco and the LGBT community. Thank you for the lasting gift." Award-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, who most recently gave us When We Rise (where Gilbert's character is shown sewing the flag) tweeted, "Rainbows weep. Our world is far less colorful without you, my love. Gilbert Baker gave us the rainbow flag to unite us. Unite again."

Friday, March 31, 2017

You are a child of the universe

Last night I kept hearing the words of this poem in my mind, and so I decided to write about it today - The Desiderata. Early in 1972, Les Crane's spoken-word recording of this poem (a poem with a very confused history, but I won't go into that), peaked at #8 on the Billboard chart. I can still remember listening to it over and over back when I lived in Nashville. As you all know though, this is NOT about me.

The words are quite inspirational. "As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons." Who can argue with that? "If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself." Certainly this is another good thought. The poem is full of them! The words - the ideas - the list of things to be desired (the actual translation of desiderata) here are so uplifting!

My favorite part of the poem, is a section that was used as a refrain in the recording: "You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should."

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Life After Birth

This is one of those stories that circulates and nobody knows who the author is. I've posted before things that I didn't write, and I want to do it again today because this one can really make you think. This one is about faith -

In a mother's womb were two babies. One asked the other: "Do you believe in life after delivery?"

The other replies, "Why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later."

"Nonsense," says the other. "There is no life after delivery. What would that life be?"

"I don't know, but there will be more light than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths."

The other says "This is absurd! Walking is impossible. And eat with our mouths? Ridiculous. The umbilical cord supplies nutrition. Life after delivery is to be excluded. The umbilical cord is too short."

"I think there is something and maybe it's different than it is here."

"No one has ever come back from there. Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery it is nothing but darkness and anxiety and it takes us nowhere."

"Well, I don't know," says the other, "but certainly we will see mother and she will take care of us."


"Mother??! You believe in mother? Where is she now?"

"She is all around us. It is in her that we live. Without her there would not be this world."

"I don't see her, so it's only logical that she doesn't exist."

To which the other replied, "sometimes when you're in silence you can hear her, you can perceive her." I believe there is a reality after delivery and we are here to prepare ourselves for that reality."


As I said at the beginning, these words are not mine, but I wanted to share this beautiful perspective on faith with you. Of course we all know that there is indeed life after delivery from the womb. How many of you believe in life after delivery from our earthly journey?

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

It's NOT about sashimi

You are correct if you think this blog is NOT about me. Oh and today, it's NOT about sashimi. (Did I get your attention though)? Actually I just wanted to remind you that your comments are certainly welcome here every day. You might even give me some ideas of people or events to share with everyone. Oh and I have two blogs (yeah I suppose a bit of self-promotion would be about me, but thought you might not know).


Five days a week I write something here about making a difference in the world. I've been writing these now for nine years. Last summer I also began a daily blog about kindness that you can find HERE. Those entries are short and hopefully inspiring - often I quote others.  Read them both.  Comment on both.  Share them with your friends.

What could be better than a nice plate of salmon sashimi?  Why hearing from dear readers of course!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Forgive and Forget

Forgive and forget?  Retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa has a few things to say about that.

“Forgiving and being reconciled to our enemies or our loved ones are not about pretending that things are other than they are. It is not about patting one another on the back and turning a blind eye to the wrong. True reconciliation exposes the awfulness, the abuse, the hurt, the truth. It could even sometimes make things worse. It is a risky undertaking but in the end it is worthwhile, because in the end only an honest confrontation with reality can bring real healing. Superficial reconciliation can bring only superficial healing.”

The archbishop further says “Forgiving is not forgetting; its actually remembering - remembering and not using your right to hit back. Its a second chance for a new beginning. And the remembering part is particularly important. Especially if you don't want to repeat what happened.”

Monday, March 27, 2017

Love those health care workers

It was not my plan at all to spend the weekend in hospital, but that's what happened. I won't go into details, because this blog is NOT about me, but I will say I am okay and there is no need to worry. I also want to say that health care workers are incredible!

In the past few days I got to see nurses, aides, technicians, phlebotomists, physicians, and any number of other hospital employees, not only dealing with me, but I could overhear their interactions with other patients.  So much caring!  If the whole world was like the people I have just encountered this weekend, we would never have anything to worry about.

Being a nurse or any health care worker, makes a difference to other people.  Think about the work they do the next time you visit your doctor.  Be sure to say thanks!


Friday, March 24, 2017

The day Mom left

Tomorrow is one of those anniversaries that is very bittersweet. It will be four years since Mom (Teddy Fritts) left us. I try not to write about me in this blog. The purpose here as you know, is to write about heroes who change the world - people who make a difference. For me, there is nobody who made more of a difference than my mom.

Last year March 25th was Good Friday. It's a very solemn church day, but we looked ahead a couple of days when my friend and I went to visit her final resting place. I stood there thinking not only of how much I missed her, but of how much she gave me. That's what happens with our heroes. They make us better. Mom most certainly made me the person I am today. She also influenced countless others.


This weekend, join my sister and I in thinking about our mom. Think too of your own parents and of people who made a difference to you. Let them know what they mean to you, and always keep them in your heart.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

more ways to brighten the day

Remember those lists we have begun here before?  Well let's see what else we can add to make a difference in the lives of others. In no particular order, here are a number of additional ideas. 
 
Give another driver your parking spot.  Give your full attention to someone in need and simply listen.  Stop by a nursing home, and visit someone who has no family nearby.  Have a clean-up party in the park.  Bring coworkers a special treat.  Buy cold drinks for the people next to you at a ball game.  Spend some time serving food at a meal program for the needy.  Volunteer to be a tutor in a school.  Remember the bereaved with phone calls, cards, plants, and food.
 
Volunteer to read to kids in the library.  Donate time at a senior center.  Give a pair of tickets to a concert or baseball game to a stranger.  Send a gift anonymously to a friend.  Transport someone who can’t drive.  Make telephone calls in support of equality urging others to put aside hate.  Send a treat to a school or day-care center.  Volunteer at an organization that needs help.  Go through your closets and find several nice items and then donate them to a shelter.  Buy books for a day care or school.  Give toys to the children at a shelter.  Volunteer to fix up an elderly couple’s home.

Invite someone new for dinner, either in your home or in a restaurant. Say nice things randomly to facebook and twitter friends.  Buy some bottles of water and randomly hand them out to strangers on the street.  Drop off a plant or a plate of cookies to your nearby police or fire station.  Clean graffiti from neighborhood walls and buildings.  Buy a stranger a free pizza.  Write “It’s Random Acts of Kindness Day! Have a great day!” on slips of paper and place them on parked cars.  Mow a neighbor’s grass or sweep a neighbor’s walk.  Offer to return a shopping cart to the store for someone loading a car.

Pay for the person behind you in the movie line.  Tell your parents/children why you love them.  Make a point of finding the name of a supermarket or drugstore employee and then praise him/her through that company’s corporate office.  When drivers try to merge into your lane, let them in with a wave and a smile.  Tell your boss that you think he/she does a good job.  Give blood.  Treat someone to fresh fruit.  Sing at a nursing home. 
 
Let's let this list keep on growing!
 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Grassroots campaigns work

Do you like what is going on in Washington, DC these days?  Are you happy with the workings in your own state or local governments?  How many of you can name your mayor or your representatives in Congress?  When things are going like the people want them to, and when justice and equality fly out the window, it's time to get involved!

I actually think it is ALWAYS good to be involved.  Congress this week is voting on a health care act, and I think every single American should be concerned.  Turn on the evening tv news or pick up the morning newspaper.  Stay aware, and then get involved.

It's amazing what a simple grassroots campaign can do.  Seriously.  The folks who say "You can't fight City Hall" are wrong.  You can write letters, send emails, make phone calls and you can make a difference.  To begin though, you need to know what you are doing.  Inform yourself.  A good way to find out about government bodies, is to look at their websites.  Head on down to your local city hall and see the city council in action.  Know about it, and then do something.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

To do good and to distribute

From the book Hebrews in The Bible:  "To do good and to distribute, forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." What exactly does that mean?  Well, the message is for us to not forget to do good and to share what we have because God is pleased with these kinds of sacrifices.  Actually the word "sacrifices" might not even be the best translation.  We might better say that God is pleased with those kinds of offerings.
 
Doing good and sharing - such a simple thing, huh? This pleases God and let me tell you it pleases a lot of others too. What though should we share?  How should we do good?  Of course there is not just one answer and it will likely be different for every one of us.  That's what makes it so wonderful. 

I have a coworker who brings fruit every day and she always offers me some.  It's part of who she is.  I have something and I will offer part of it to others.  It's like when you go to someone's house and they offer you a beverage or perhaps even a snack. You came to see them - nothing more, but in their charity and in their hospitality, they offer to share more than just themselves.
 
Think about this today. What does doing good mean in your life? How do you share what you have? (One really helpful kind of sharing is if you give us some feedback in the comments section below).

Monday, March 20, 2017

F NOT Fitzgerald

The other day I read a wonderful quote that had been attributed to F Scott Fitzgerald. It was one of those encouraging things that often will end up on a poster, but as I was reading it, I also learned that the words were not his. Oh my! The article actually went on to say that there are many instances these days of quotes wrongly attributed on the internet.

Now Fitzgerald was an incredible writer. There is no denying that. He died at a very young age, but had he lived longer, there is no telling how many more wonderful stories he would have told. Among his works are This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and Damned, The Great Gatsby, and Tender Is the Night. In addition, Fitzgerald penned dozens of short stories.

The quote I was speaking of though is the very kind of thing I like to share here. It likely came from a screenwriter by the name of Eric Roth. There is much evidence that it was not Fitzgerald's. Still, it's a wonderful quote:

For what it’s worth … it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Are you happy?

What makes you happy?  Are there material objects that bring you happiness?  What about music or art or food?  Are you happy because of the work you do or the people you associate with or because of your hobbies or because of some great past memories? 
 
What?  I'm assuming you ARE happy.  Perhaps I should have first asked if you are.  Well, what's the answer?  Are you a happy person?  Do you share that happiness with others?  (Sharing happiness can also bring you happiness).
 
I think that happy is one of those wonderful things that is very easy to share.  If you are smiling it invites others to smile as well.  If you seem to be happy and pleasant, I'll bet you will find others picking that happiness up from you!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Babies don't hate

This is a baby. Yes, I know that is obvious, but there are a few other obvious things about babies that I would like to point out.

Babies don't hate you because of your skin color and they don't hate you because of your sexual orientation. Babies don't hate you because of your gender or your weight or your religion or your sex. Yes, it may be obvious, but in fact babies don't hate you for any reason at all! Do you know why? They don't understand the concept. They don't know how to hate.

A wonderful article a few years ago titled See Baby Discriminate said that children as young as six months could judge others based on their skin color. Where are they getting these ideas? Who is teaching our children? The answer of course is we are. We are teaching discrimination. We are teaching hate. We are taking away the innocence of our children.

Parents and teachers are not bad. That's not my message here. What I am saying is that babies come into the world without any notion of hate. Let's not give it to them!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Community comes out to say goodbye

Last Friday I was present as the local community paid tribute to a law enforcement officer who had died after a long fight against cancer. I'll be part of the local Relay For Life supporting your American Cancer Society later this spring because I have personally been touched so many times by cancer. What I want to talk about though is this hero and the people who loved him. I'm living in a relatively small town these days, and so it is much more common to know many people in different parts of town. I don't think I have ever seen such a huge turnout though, except for celebrities.


The day began at a local church, where every seat was filled and the mourners even stretched out the front doors and spilled onto the sidewalks outside. Next there was a special luncheon, and the number in attendance was even larger. Immediately after the lunch, there was a civic memorial and the number of folks had doubled. Men and women in uniform were present, with family and friends and folks who barely knew him. Tribute after tribute said the same thing - this was a kind and caring man who loved his family, his God, his community, and his friends.

What really impressed me was how many people came out and the diversity in the crowd.  A deputy sheriff died - not some horrible crime related death while performing his duties, but a slow and painful death from disease.  People weren't talking about how his life ended though - they spoke of how it was lived, and boy was it lived!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

For him it makes a difference

Another one of those "internet parables" came my way the other day, and although you may have heard it, this one again is worth sharing. Like others I have shared here in the past, I have no idea who the author is.

It seems an old man was going for a walk one day when he noticed a little boy feeding a thin, shaggy looking dog with bits of bread. He went up to the boy and asked him why he was sharing his bread with the dog.

The little boy answered, "Because he has nothing. No home, no family, and if I don’t feed him he will die."

"But there are homeless dogs everywhere," the old man replied. "Your efforts don’t really make a difference."

The little boy looked at the dog and stroked him. "For him, for this little dog, it makes all the difference in the world."

I wish I knew who wrote this because they get it so amazingly right. Did you ever hold back from donating money or food or anything else because you could only spare a small amount and thought it wouldn't make a difference? If we all fed those homeless dogs - if we all fed those homeless people, it would make such a difference. I'm thinking we just might wipe out homelessness!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

butterfly

Butterflies are beautiful. There are so many different species and so many different colors. Did you know though that it can be a picture of your soul? Well, according to Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things, by Lafcadio Hearn, a butterfly was seen in Japan as the personification of a someone's soul; whether they be living, dying, or are already dead. They have been pictured as symbols of the recently departed on television and in movies.  It seems to me that makes them even more beautiful!
 
Every morning I go for a walk to begin the day.  Most of the time it is dark out when I begin and sometimes it is still dark when I finish my walk.  It's amazing how many beautiful things you can see even before the sun comes up.  During that time of year when the sun is rising earlier, I listen to the chirping of the early birds and I look for flowers and even butterflies.  I'm not sure when they sleep, but I so the most amazing butterfly the other day.  It would pause for a moment and just as I was about to take its picture, it would flutter away to another tree branch.
 
Butterflies seem so free.  Even their eating habits are beautiful.  They survive most on nectar.  Wow!  One of the lovely images of nature.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Change the World

Listening to Eric Clapton sing Change the World, I find myself thinking of all the many things I would love to do. Clapton's song is really a love song, but it's from the motion picture Phenomenon and the film was about someone who indeed changed the world.

A couple of wonderful scenes from the movie stick in my mind. In on of them, the lead character George Malley asks his love interest Lace Pennamin, "Hey, would you, uh, love me for the rest of my life?" Her response: "No, I'm gonna love you for the rest of mine." In another scene, George is trying to comfort the two small children of Lace, who have just learned that he is dying. George uses an apple as a metaphor, saying that no matter what, an apple will rot and die if thrown on the ground, but if you were to take a bite out of it, the apple would become a part of you, and you would carry it with you forever. I really love that way of looking at it. He is essentially saying that he will therefore live forever.

From a Clapton song to a major film, there are different ways of looking at leaving a piece of yourself behind - of changing the world.  If we all do something that becomes a part of others, we will in a sense, live forever.  Of course we don't try to do good or change the world, just so we will have immortality.  We do it to benefit our families and our friends and other loved ones.  We all can change the world!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Live for something greater

Just what does it mean to live for something greater?  Think about it for a moment.  Are we talking about great accomplishments?  Are we talking about a greater power?  Are we talking about a set of values?  What do you think?
 
I write a lot about hometown heroes and to me, those are the folks who live for something greater.  It might not have been something they thought about or planned, but by their actions or by their words, they made a difference and it was something that endures.
 
Do you want you live to be infancy, school, work, retirement, and then death with no great milestones along the way?  Well most of us don't.  It's human nature to do new things and along the way to become more and more popular and to have more and more friends.  Although we know we cannot live forever, many of us want something we do or say to last beyond our time on this earth.  That's what motivates them to do great things.
 
The motivations can be many.  There need not be just one answer to my above questions.  How about if we all strive to live for something greater!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

sunrise - sunset

Isn't this a glorious vision?  Wait a moment though - in this picture, are we looking at a sunrise or a sunset?  Can you tell the difference?  Is one more beautiful than the other? 
 
There are those who prefer the rising of the sun in the morning.  It signals a fresh start; a brand new day.  Most of us when we see it are just waking up and are rested and refreshed after a night's sleep.
 
Some people prefer to look at the sun as it sets.  The day is finished and now, as the sun goes down, a time of rest is approaching.  We have done what we set out to do and there will be another opportunity to do more wonderful things tomorrow.
 
However we look at the sun though, one thing is certain.  It is beautiful.  Take a moment and just reflect on this picture.  There is beauty all around us.  Take a moment and enjoy some of that too.  In fact, start looking at all the beauty that surrounds you, and I guarantee in will change your day!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

One man's trash

Something that one person considers to be worthless just might be considered valuable by someone else.  I think the old saying is that one man's trash is another man's treasure.  You might also look at it as always seeing something positive, even in something as seemingly worthless as garbage.
 
I know people who always see the positive.  I try to be like that myself.  I would much rather enjoy the everyday experiences and rejoice in the hidden beauty that is so often missed than to spend unnecessary time and money going for the lavish expensive things that so many covet but which all too often are really over rated.
 
There is so much good - everywhere.  All we have to do is open our eyes and our minds.  Now, I'm not saying we should wallow in dirt and filth, but we can appreciate the less extravagant.  We can also do something about the filth and make it so that everyone might enjoy it!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Fifty

Walking down an unfamiliar street in Buffalo, New York many years ago, it suddenly began to rain. It wasn't a light shower but rather a cold and pounding downpour. I wasn't wearing an overcoat and had no umbrella, so I was soaked almost immediately. My usual sunny mood had turned to quite the opposite, but all that was about to change.

Hurrying up the sidewalk with water pouring off of me, I looked down and there in front of me was a fifty dollar bill! Oh my! Now the rain didn't seem so bad. If it hadn't been raining, surely that money would have blown away. I put it in my pocket and continued on my way.

Later when I mentioned my good luck to a friend, he said "But it isn't yours. Did you even try to find the rightful owner?"

This wasn't a wallet or an identifiable piece of property. It was US currency that someone had likely dropped without knowing, but since I didn't witness it, how could I possibly find the person it belonged to?

I'm telling you this story today to solicit your thoughts. Was I wrong to keep it? Was that a dishonest act? What would YOU have done?

Monday, February 27, 2017

Gazing or doing

We can sit quietly, gazing up at the stars, or we can get involved and do something. WE can bring about change, but we have to want it. In the past month we have seen way too many examples of hate, and we have seen so many die. Is that the way it's supposed to be? Do we go through our life worrying about being shot or who we are going to shoot? (Take notice of how guns are involved in almost all of these horrible situations, and yet there are still those who say everyone has a right to own a gun - don't limit our freedom).
 
Racism is alive in the USA, but we have the power to end it.  We can end the anti-gay hate too.  In fact, we can see all hate done away with.  I've seen some wonderful signs of people working together in the past few days, but as the various killing fade from memory, I am afraid that we will see that working together, come to an end.  Folks this needs to be fixed now.  Not one more life should be lost.  Don't just trot out your concern when there is a terrible tragedy.  Gay people deserve equal treatment.  Black lives matter.  Guns kill.  These thing must be on our minds, and we must fix our brokenness.  Again, we have the power.  Every single one of us can make a difference. 
 
Are you afraid?  I can understand that.  When you see people being shot, that can be a very scary thing.  (I have a lot to say about fear, but will save that for tomorrow).  Watching and doing nothing, does not make a problem go away though.  Reach outside your comfort zone and you'll discover superpowers that you never knew you had.  Let's all stop gazing, and start doing!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Rule to live by

Some people say they have a code of ethics or a rule to live by. The whole "giving back" idea that I write about here every day, I think is a form of this code. Many refer to it as the Golden Rule.
 
It really is quite basic: we should treat others as we would like others to treat us. Not hard to understand, right? It is generally stated as "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
 
There is a "two-way" relationship between us and the others in our world and that relationship involves both sides equally. None of us likes to have too many regulations, but we all should have some kind of positive rule to live by. This is just basic human values.
 
I can remember when people used to quote this rule. I can remember when it was common for people to actually live by it. We can go back to that again. It is possible.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Hospital window

Occasionally I've shared stories here that are not my own. Today I have one of those. This has been floating around on the internet, and I have no idea who wrote it, but please read on for a moving tale.


"Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room's only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for endless hours.


"They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, and where they had been on vacation.


"Every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window. The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.


"The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance. As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.


"One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn't hear the band, he could see it in his mind's eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.


"Days and weeks passed.


"One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.


"As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.


"Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall!


"The man called the nurse and asked her what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall.


She said, 'Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.'"


Great story, huh? As I said, the author of this is unknown. You may have even read it before, but I think it is worth seeing again. I was very moved when I first read this story, and I hope it touches you as well.  Do share this with others too. That's what encouragement is all about.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

roses are red - sometimes

Roses are red, says the poem. Indeed they are. They might also be pink or white or yellow or a number of other colors, including a mixed color. I think the most stunning rose color is lavender, and it smells nice too!

I'm thinking of roses this morning because I happened to pass so gorgeous ones on my early walk. I just wanted to stop and soak in the beauty. It's no wonder people love to send and to receive these wonderful flowers. Oh my!

Oh and this is in keeping with the theme of this blog. If you plant beautiful flowers, you are certainly helping to make this a more beautiful world. Such a simple thing, huh? Of course there are many flower possibilities. Do you have a favorite? If I were to send you a bouquet, what flowers would you want included?

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

What do you think?

My thoughts and the ideas I put forth each day in this space, are not the only concepts out there. Yes, I make suggestions on how we might all help make this a better world, but are my ideas any good? Are there better ways? Your sentiments are worth hearing too, even if we might not agree with them.


I have said this before, and will likely say it many more times, but even though this blog is NOT about me, it is written by me, and therefore is heavy laden with my opinion. What about yours though? You much have thoughts on the subjects I post here. Do you agree with me or disagree? Let's hear YOUR opinion too!


Right under the last line I write each day it says "blogged by Michael Fullam at time." Right next to that you will see a place where you can comment. I'd really love to hear your opinion. I'm sure many people would like to look at the thoughts of others as well.


So, after all these years, you pretty much know what I think about a LOT of things. You have read countless suggestions from me and I've told you about good deeds and folks I consider inspirations to me. Now, take a moment or two and tell me what YOU think!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Live in the now

One of the biggest mistakes some folks make is to live a live filled with regrets.  I'm talking about those who strive so hard to get to another place, that they miss all the joys of being where they are.
 
There is nothing wrong with having goals.  In fact it is quite healthy to plan new adventures and to want change.  It can become unhealthy though if it is an obsession. Stop waiting for Friday to come as if you can only be happy on you days off from work.  Stop waiting for your vacations with the mindset that you are miserable the rest of the time.  Look with joy to relaxation of course, but never feel like the rest of the time is bad or the bus will simply pass you by.  I know of people who dread Mondays. As for me, I'm excited for each new week I'm alive and I greet Monday (and pretty much every day) with a smile.
 
Do you know anyone who is desperately waiting for someone to fall in love with them?  This is the same thing.  Yes, it would be lovely if you had a life partner and who would not want to be loved, but don't focus on that above all else and stop living your live in the here and now.  It certainly won't make you a very attractive candidate for romance.  Even worse, it won't be good for you.
 
When we live in the now and find enjoyment in our daily lives, we are much happier people.  The world can always use more happiness!

Friday, February 17, 2017

This July

This summer will be the thirtieth time there has been an AIDS Walk San Francisco. Since that first one, similar events have sprung up all across the US and Canada. The goal is the same of course, the see and end to HIV/AIDS and the San Francisco event is dear to me because I lost so many friends there to AIDS. I've walked 24 years and just signed up for my 25th! I know this blog is not about me, and I usually don't get personal, but this fight is important and it IS personal. I hope it will become personal for you too.


There is still stigma to fight. There is still educating that needs to be done. We still need to give assistance to many who live with HIV. Of course the big thing is that we need to find a cure! I urge you to participate, either by donating to support my walk or my registering to walk yourself, or by sharing this information with others. (Or you can do all of those things too)! Click HERE to become one of my sponsors. Any amount helps! You are also welcome to walk with me at the San Francisco event in July.


AIDS was first clinically observed in 1981 in the United States. (Remember when you lost so many friends back in the early 80s)? Things have gotten better since then, but we cannot stop until AIDS is a thing of the past - until nobody is living with HIV and we only find AIDS in our history books. I'll be doing a number of things, particularly this July. I do hope to see many of you with me!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

White House ban

With everyone talking about the President and his advisors and cabinet, I was asked why I had not written a single thing on the subject. Had I imposed some sort of White House ban here? Absolutely not. There purpose of this blog has always been a positive and uplifting one. I write here about folks who are doing good things for others and who are changing the world for the better. I write about hometown heroes and offer suggestions about how all of us can give back to society. There theme of this blog would therefore seem to be at odds with the current state of the White House.

We have had Presidents whom I have praised. We have had events at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue that has made me very proud. I am not seeing that spirit there these days, and I prefer to write about positive things instead of moaning about the negative. I know there are some who disagree with this, but perhaps this would be a good time for folks to actually start working together.

Nothing would give me more pleasure than to share stories about a kind and loving US President who is representing all Americans and advocating for social justice and inclusion of every single person from coast to coast. I most certainly will write in this space about such happenings when and if they occur. There is no White House ban, but there is a ban on negativity and if that is all the White House can produce these days, then you won't be hearing much about them here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

One person can make a difference

Several years ago, when I wrote my very first entry here, I spoke of changing the world; of giving back to society; of making a difference.  The theme of this blog has remained the same throughout and I trace it all back to my childhood when John F Kennedy was the US President.  Kennedy challenged us to dream.  He challenged us to make a difference.

It has been more than fifty years since his words were spoken, but they carry the same encouragement now, as then. On January 20, 1961 at his inauguration at the US Capital, Kennedy said the line most often quoted: "Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country." The President was challenging every single American to contribute in some way to the public good - to make a difference. We still can answer that call!

I don't remember if it was Jacqueline Kennedy or John Kennedy who said this (it has been attributed to both, although Caroline Kennedy credits her father with the words in her forward to the anniversary edition of Profiles In Courage). "One person can make a difference and everyone should try." Indeed. Everyone.
 
I don't know of my success, but every day I want to do something that benefits someone else.